Councillor returns to his TV roots

Marcus Harris plays headteacher Brian Davis, centre, in the new series of Darton High

Marcus Harris plays headteacher Brian Davis, centre, in the new series of Darton High

First published in Education
Last updated

MARCUS Harris originally found fame as one of the stars of the 1970s TV series The Famous Five.

But in an about-turn, the 50-year-old ended up serving the people of Wallingford as their deputy mayor in 2006-7.

Now the South Oxfordshire district councillor will return to the small screen, starring in a new children’s programme.

It will feature young Oxford actors, and he hopes he can help out the next generation of young performers.

Mr Harris, who played Julian in the TV adaptation of Enid Blyton’s classic novels,  pictured centre, said he hoped his experience would help youngsters who will audition for two parts in the series.

Banbury Cake:

Open auditions to find two 10 to 18-year-olds for Darton High, about life at an inner city school, will be held at the Sea Cadet Hall on Donnington Bridge Road, Oxford, on Saturday.

Mr Harris said: “The reason I’m involved is someone gave me a chance over 30 years ago on The Famous Five and that was such an amazing, positive experience.

“It gave me confidence and communication skills, so if I can help the other kids out for TV and get them to appreciate the value of working in a team that is fantastic.”

A member of South Oxfordshire District Council since 2003, Mr Harris retired from acting after his two years in the ITV programme from 1978-79 and went into business.

But five years ago he returned to professional acting and has appeared in biopics about authors Philip Pullman and Ernest Hemingway.

He plays headteacher Brian Davis in Darton High, which first appeared as an internet drama on YouTube almost three years ago. It was launched by Youngstar TV Film and Acting School as a way to give their young actors the experience of appearing in a drama series.

The show was then picked for television by That’s Media, the parent company of new local TV stations That’s Oxford and That’s Solent, which are set to launch this autumn. It will become the main drama on the stations.

Mr Harris got involved for the TV series after Youngstar advertised for a headmaster. The sixth episode of the first series will be filmed in Oxford, as will all the episodes of series two.

The casting sessions will be run by Youngstar and its founder Louisa Baxter said: “It is important to have Marcus involved because he can talk to the kids about what it is like to be on the set. He is someone who has actually done it.

“Children increasingly think they can go on X Factor or Britain’s Got Talent and they will instantly be a star and that is not the case.

“You have to work hard and Marcus demonstrated that, because he did a lot of stuff as a child. There is a transition between doing something as a child and then doing it as an adult.

“In Oxford there is quite a big arts scene so I think it will be quite a good place to do it and find some local talent.”

Mr Harris said: “We are looking for supporting artists as well, those people who are not successful in the leading roles may well have success in the supporting roles. The audition process will involve film and TV workshops.

“We will see a lot of potential talent, this isn’t just an extra part in the back row.”

To take part in the casting email info@youngstar.tv or call 02380 477717.

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